Passive resistance and the Mahatma kitty | News, Sports, Jobs


I’ve had pets all my life and my current list is two dogs, a cat and a goldfish.

Due to poor planning (or more honestly, no planning), we are all around the same age. One dog is 10 years old, the other 11 years old; the cat is 12 years old and the goldfish is 18 years old. This means, to use the unpoetic words of my nephew, that we are all in the last trimester. And to be downright blunt about it, we’re in the last half of the last quarter.

At least this is the case with mammals. Given that the oldest recorded domesticated goldfish lived to be 43 years old, my boy Rocky may outlive us all.

The thing with geriatric beings is that as we decline, we need more care. I take my share of medication; I see my dermatologist more often than my immediate family. Likewise, my pets are seeing their vets a lot more now than just a few years ago.

Of my four charges, the one that takes the most time, energy, and currency is my cat, Purrsia.

Last August, she started to lose weight. Admittedly, she had always been on the full side and now looked better in her skinny and mean new look, I was worried. Let’s face it: When Golden Agers start losing weight for no apparent reason, it’s almost never good news. So we went to the animal hospital in High Peaks.

After the beatings, the goads and the tests, the verdict was in: she had kidney disease.

What to do?

Well, there’s only one thing to do: switch to a low-protein diet. And there’s only one way to do that – get cat food formulated for moggies, which I did.

Now, a quick note about my cat. Although she is 12 years old, I have only had her for three years. It was the Amazon Queen’s cat, and when the AQ went to Gotham for a year, I inherited it. The plan was of course that when the AQ returned, so would the cat. But as Bobby Burns pointed out, plans – even the best-laid ones – lag behind.

After the year passed, we realized that Purrsia would be much happier with me. She doesn’t like being alone (which she would be most of the time while the QA was working), and she loves dogs. Thus Purrsia became a full member of The Dope Mishpucha. That suited me, since I had always had cats, plus she wasn’t a problem to deal with.

At least she had no problems until she followed her special diet. Because when that happened, she became the embodiment of Mahatma Gandhi.

A war of wills

Quite simply, she hated the new food and refused to eat it. I called the vet and was told there was another kidney food that tasted better (although I hope the vet knew that from observation rather than personal taste). So I got the new food. At first the cat gobbled it up; a few days later, she turned her little pink nose to him. This was Purrsia’s passive resistance at its worst.

So what?

Then I tried negotiation. I mixed the kidney food with other cat food. Again, Purrsia slashed it for a few days, then ate it as the mood hit her – which wasn’t the case too often.

I became less of a modern cat owner and more of a medieval alchemist. Except that instead of trying to turn base metals into gold, I was trying to find the foods she liked, then mix them in precise proportions for her to deign to eat. My success was erratic; my constant frustration.

After six months, I took her back to the vet for her follow-up visit. On the plus side, his numbers hadn’t changed; on the negative side, she had lost another pound.

Now I was in a dilemma. If I tried to give her as much kidney food as she needed, she would refuse to eat it. Then it would be thrown away and she would lose more weight. If I just went and gave her nothing but her favorite glop diet which was bad for her, she might gain weight, but lose her kidney function. I had no idea how to proceed. In fact, I only knew one thing, and that was the law of Purrsia, which is that the less expensive, greasy, and smelly the cat food, the more she likes it.

In the end, the question was what was best for the cat…and I couldn’t decide what that was. My indecision was driving me crazy. Weeks passed, my internal conflict escalated until it was resolved, as internal conflicts can often be – in a dream.

peace at last

In the dream, I was at my annual medical examination. The setting was the traditional doctor’s office – a large desk with family photos and a cellar on it; diplomas on the wall, the smell of alcohol permeating the air. And the doctor was typical – suit and tie, gold-rimmed glasses, kind look on his face. Only one thing was different: it was a man-sized cat. The name on the diplomas was, unsurprisingly, Dr. Katz.

“Your test results just came in,” he said.

“Yeah?” I said. “How do they look?”

The scratches on his forehead coalesced into a frown.

“Well, there’s bad news,” he said, “…and there is good news.”

“OKAY,” I said. “First, the bad news.”

“You have Shmendricksky syndrome.”

“What is that?” I said.

“It is an extremely rare age-related disorder that leads to general organ failure,” he said.

“So what’s the good news?” »

“The good news is that you’re in the early stages,” he said. “And although the decline cannot be stopped, it can be slowed significantly by a change in diet.”

“Oh?” I said. “What kind of diet? »

“A strict” he said. “The only dairy products you can have are cottage cheese and yogurt. No candy, no caffeine. But unlimited beans, whole wheat products, cabbage, onions, garlic and Brussels sprouts.

“And the drinks?” » I asked.

“No caffeine or fruit juice” he said, “but as much sauerkraut juice as you want.”

In shock, I tried to process the enormity of this life change. I could not.

Finally, I found my voice.

“So if I follow this diet, how long can I expect to stay healthy? ” I said.

“Who knows?” he said. “There are no guarantees in medicine.”

“Except anything can go wrong with anyone at any time,” I said.

“Yes,” he said. “There is this.”

“So while I may never be the oldest guy in town, I’m guaranteed to be the most bubbly?”

He just shrugged.

A long moment passed without either of us speaking.

He looked at his watch, I thought I signaled that the meeting was over.

“The sun is above the yard”, he said, opening the cellar and taking a pinch of green grass. “Fancy a bite?”

“Uh, no thanks,” I said. “I have to go anyway.”

He nodded, licked some of the grass, and rolled his eyes.

I was surprised, sure he was breaking an AMA rule, but before I could mention it, I woke up.

It was dark, in the middle of the night. I checked the clock – 3:45. The only noise was a soft purr on my right side. I patted Purrsia several times, she looked at me.

“Very well,” I said. “From now on, eat what you want and leave the rest.”

And the problem was solved. Or if you want to put it in sporting terms, she won and I lost.

According to Genesis, man rules over animals. There is much debate over who wrote this passage, and the argument has never been resolved.

Anyway, I know one thing for sure about its author: whoever they are, they never had a cat.

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